Was Helena Blavatsky a Socialist and 33° Degree Mason?
Charles Sotheran and the Masonic Patent
THEOSOPHISTS HAVE BEEN SLANDERED BY PERSONS of right and left political persuasion who dabble in conspiracy theorizing, each accusing the other political side, sometimes both of being at the helm of world events. Anti-Masons often believe, the high initiates of Freemasonry worship Lucifer as Light, they say. So, a 33 degree Mason is mythologized by them. To say, so and so is a 33 degree Mason is enough to cause these people to gasp about something they claim to know about. It does not matter to us if Blavatsky was a 33 degree Mason, but it matters when Anti-Masonry researchers have written to gullible people, that she is, because she wasn’t one.
To work H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy into their particular anti-socialist outlook would lead to nothing but lies. It was said, that Engels did not like the Theosophists and Spiritualists, and although Marx and Blavatsky were contemporaries of their time, they never met. Marx hated Mazzini, while H.P.B. was acquainted with Mazzini and Garibaldi.
Blavatsky sometimes said unflattering things about the Socialists and Communists, and predecessors of the Bolsheviks. When she was in Russia, she made observations of changes that were occurring she felt unsettled by, although she also criticized the Tsars, and the Romanovs for neglecting the peasants in her letters. However, this had everything to do with her principles she believed in, rather than a political ideology. Surprisingly, similar to Jiddu Krishnamurti (“There Is Only One Revolution!”), Blavatsky believed, that a spiritual, ethical, psychological revolution was needed, and thought, that political reforms before this could not fundamentally change humanity. She thought, the Communists would make things worse.
Charles Sotheran was an early former in the Theosophical Society’s history who resigned, and then later begged on his knees to Blavatsky (In H.P.B.’s Scrapbook, Vol. I, p. 112) to be permitted back. Then later again, he was kicked out of the Theosophical Society. The first instance he wrote, was over an argument, or uncomplimentary remarks he made toward H.P.B., and the last time, because of political wrangling and unethical ideas, after declaring himself a labour Socialist (In H.P.B.’s Scrapbook, Vol. VII, p. 258).
“A Theosophist becoming a rioter, encouraging revolution and MURDER, a friend of Communists is no fit member of our Society. HE HAS TO GO.”
In A Signal of Danger (1889), Blavatsky says that “As far as we are concerned, disciples of the Masters of the Orient as we are, we have nothing to do with modern Masonry.” However, there were many Masons that read and were genuinely interested in her works. When Charles Sotheran put before her a Masonic Diploma, an achievement given in honor of her life’s work and service, she had written:
“If you will kindly refer to my Isis Unveiled (Vol. II, p. 394), you will find me saying: “We are under neither promise, obligation, nor oath, and therefore violate no confidence”-reference being made to Western Masonry, to the criticism of which the chapter is devoted; and full assurance is given that I have never taken “the regular degrees” in any Western Masonic Lodge. Of course, therefore, having taken no such degree, I am not a thirty-third degree Mason. In a private note, also in your most recent editorial, you state that you find yourself taken to task by various Masons, among them one who has taken thirty-three degrees-which include the “Ineffable”-for what you said about me. My Masonic experience—if you will so term membership in several Eastern Masonic Fraternities and Esoteric Brotherhoods—is confined to the Orient. But, nevertheless, this neither prevents my knowing, in common with all Eastern “Masons,” everything connected with Western Masonry (including the numberless humbugs that have been imposed upon the Craft during the last half century) nor, since the receipt of the diploma from the “Sovereign Grand Master,” of which you publish the text, my being entitled to call myself a Mason.”
“That an American Rite, thus spuriously organized, declines to acknowledge the Patent of an English Sovereign Sanctuary, duly recognized by the Grand Orient of France, does not at all invalidate my claim to Masonic honours. As well might Protestants refuse to call the Dominicans Christians, because the Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church and set up for themselves, as for A. and A. Masons of America to deny the validity of a Patent from an English A. and P. Rite body. Though I have nothing to do with American modern Masonry, and do not expect to have, yet, feeling highly honoured by the distinction conferred upon me by Brother Yarker, I mean to stand for my chartered rights, and to recognize no other authority than that of the high Masons of England, who have pleased to send me this unsolicited and unexpected testimonial of their approval of my humble labours.” (Franklin Register and Norfolk County Journal, Franklin, Mass., February 8, 1878; see The Author of Isis Unveiled Defends the Validity of Her Masonic Patent)
In H.P.B.s Scrapbook, Vol. IV, pp. 164-65, there is a cutting from the Banner of Light of February 2, 1878, an article by Charles Sotheran entitled Honours to Madame Blavatsky. The writer defends H.P.B., her work Isis Unveiled, and the Masonic Diploma which she received from John Yarker, but H.P. Blavatsky appended the following statement:
“Mr. C. Sotheran who so abused me and the Society has now returned to it again confessing his mistake and making Puja to me again. Oh humanity!!”
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